An Analysis of Bertolt Brecht’s play “Mother Courage and Her Children”
Bertolt Brecth’s “Mother Courage and Her Children” was possibly one of the most unique plays ever written as it has themes and undertones that are unlike any other. Basically, the story takes place during the Thirty Years War, during German invasion of Poland, which subsequently sparked World War II. Although it’s a story about war, it mainly revolves around the life of the protagonist, Mother Courage, who runs a canteen wagon with her children, Eilif, Kattrin, and Swiss Cheese.
She basically feeds off the war, going to army camps and selling merchandise in order to for her family to survive. Possibly one of the most notable aspects about the play is its unusual plot and depiction of its heroine. Although Mother Courage does her best to ensure her and her family’s survival, at most parts of the play that is all she ever does to the point of sacrificing the welfare of her children. Even though her children’s survival is her top priority, she jeopardizes them by becoming too fixated on managing her canteen wagon and going to dangerous areas in the war.
This was best evidenced in Scene 3, when she refused to recognize the corpse of his son, Swiss Cheese, who shot by enemy soldiers, for fear of being captured. As a result, the boy’s body was thrown into the carrion pit and Mother Courage proceeded to running her business as if nothing happened. Likewise, when Kattrin was shot dead by soldiers for alerting the townspeople for an upcoming attack, she sings to her corpse and says that she must get back to business, making it appear that there grieving for her daughter is less important than her canteen wagon.
In other words, it can be said that Mother Courage is not the usual hero who seeks honor and shows bravery in her actions. Her characterization also deviates from that of a tragic hero because although she lost all of her children in the play, she survived and did not commit any error or make any lapse in judgment that could have led to her downfall, which is the case in most tragic plays. In fact, the entire play tends to focus more on conflicts and issues than connecting with characters’ emotions, which makes it highly distinct among other plays.
It is also noticeable that characters’ relationships are not fully developed as each has his or her own story or motive. Furthermore, the play has ironic undertones in various parts. For example, Mother Courage is ironically more of a coward in the play as she avoids confrontation and refuses to take any course of action that would compromise her canteen wagon business. But possibly the greatest irony in the play is the fact that Mother Courage lost all three of her children while prospering in the canteen wagon business, which, ironically, is intended for their survival.
Meaning to say, the play depicted the war as more of a means for business and not an avenue violence or destruction. Mother Courage’s loss of her children also sends a subtle message regarding tragedies that war brings. In a sense, the entire play is against the war. The author sends this message by focusing more on the realities of war than on the personalities and relationships of the characters. In short, play is generally a lighter depiction of the war although it is not in a sense satirical nor is it a parody.Sample Essay of BuyEssay.org